CNN – Class seeks to rid kids of Appalachian accents

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I suppose this issue never really disappears. As the world gets smaller the pressure gets greater to standardize everything, including the way we speak.

There was actually a great documentary done a while ago (can’t remember who did it) that addressed these issues. I saw it in a socio-linguistics class at UIUC. It discussed how many people who made the move to larger cities or different regions, altered or even lost theiry regional dialects to fit in. Of course, then it’s more than an issue of dialect, but more importantly an issue of indentity. Language is Culture is Identity.

Watching Spellings

I started a new blog today (http://spellingswatch.blogspot.com/) after hearing about the Spellings fiasco with PBS. She’s up in arms over the fact that publically supported PBS was going to air a children’s program that showed a lesbian couple raising children.

Not matter what your opinion is on homosexuality, this is reality. The argument is that (1) some tax payers think that it is not right to imply that homosexuality is acceptable and that (2)we often restrict what we show children to save them from reality.

As for the first argument, as a tax payer some people don’t think that a white mouse (the cartoon character involved) and a brown mouse shouldn’t play together or even a jewish mouse and a christian mouse. (note that one is designated by birth and the other by choice-both are social constructs as well-thus taking into account the two most popular beliefs on the “cause” of homosexuality).

As for the second argument, we mostly restrict what children on tv see if it is too violent, or sexually explicit. Is seeing two mommies together sexually explicit or in some strange way too violent? I don’t think so. There is more sexual content in those randy telatubbies! Unfortunately, if you accept the first argument, then my counter-argument will likely fall on deaf ears.

As I’ve heard said before, wiping gay images from TV should be rather low on the priority list for the Department of Education. There are a lot more pressing issues in education.

Now, I don’t want this new blog to be a Spellings bashing site, though it will likely turn into that. She’s been in the news a lot lately and the only sites with a good spin are on the government sites 🙂

Let us brainwash your kids!

This is a great site (www.kids.gov). I don’t know why it took me so long to find it. Now, it’s not as bad as my title suggests. There is a whole lot of great educational content here for kids of all ages. It seems like a bulk of the content, though, is for K-6.

I was pointed in the direction of this site by an article in the December, 2004 issue of Wired (p. 46). They point out the more insiduous sites that the government has for kids: National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), FBI Kids, National Security Agency and the Central Security Service (NSA/CSS), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

These are a combination of interesting historical content and scary propaganda (see the NRO song list), but are definately a must see for techie educators.

Careful, they’re watching you!

The Article

There was an interesting article in the September 27, 2004 Newsweek (p. 87), “The Connected Classroom,” about a growning trend of providing parents with easy online access to student assignments, assessments, grades, and live video of classrooms.

Parents’ Little Helper

The perspective author of the piece is that of a caring parent. I have to admit, that as a parent I would love what these services offer. This is a way for busy parents to get/keep involved in their child’s education. In the good old days, we needed to wait for a parent/teacher conference or a report card. It would be nice to have this information at our finger tips.

The Evil on the Other Side

Viewing your child’s assignments and grades is one thing. Who could complain about giving parents access to those items, but Video? How would you like to have a video camera in your office, cubicle, or so forth? I have to imagine that you would NOT want that. Of course, this is standard in many industries, banks, restaurants, hotels to name a few. I’m sure that these workers were no more thrilled than you would be, yet they were assured that they were just for security and wouldn’t influence them in their jobs. That probably reassured folks until viewing of those tapes became a standard managment practice.

In an ever more complicated classroom, I want to not only see how my child is doing, but also how the teacher is teaching. I’m sure that this will become standard practice in teachers’ performance reviews, I can’t imagine that such a powerful look into the classroom will not be utilized by school administrators.

A Company

WatchMeGrow is a company cited in the article that specializes in the installation, support, and hosting of these solutions. Check it out. It doesn’t seem like these solutions are anything more than a gimmick right now. The “streaming video” may stream, but it’s a capture rate of about 1 frame per second. The only thing that you can do is see that your child is in the room and even that is difficult if they’re on the other side of the room.

This isn’t to say that they technologies won’t get better in coming years. Higher bandwidth, better compression, and competition in the market will assure better products in coming years. I can’t imagine that higher capture rates and surely audio will creep into these products very shortly. Once parents (and admins) taste this power, they’ll want more.